make any opinion, but as a friend and brother officer I advise you to move with great rapidity and not stand too much on preliminary preparation.
You may safely rely on the country for forage, meat, and partial supplies of corn meal. General Grant will need on the Tennessee every man he can collect in all April, and this Shreveport movement, like mine on Meridian, is only justified on the ground of rapid execution and to result in setting free the troops hitherto held to defend points. By destroying Meridian and the railroads centering there I make it impossible for our enemy to threaten our river by anything but cavalry, and therefore we can draw from the garrisons of Columbus, Memphis, and Vicksburg full 15,000 men to re-enforce the armies in Tennessee. If in like manner you destroy by a rapid movement the enemy's force on Red River, you also could give us from 5,000 to 8,000 men. Of course you will need all your cavalry, and were I you I would move toward Shreveport by the most direct route with all your force, and after passing Arkadelphia would send back a part with the feeble and foot-sore to swell the garrison deemed necessary for Little Rock. The moment Kirby Smith sees three columns all tending to Shreveport he will call for every man he has, and then decide to fight at Shreveport or save his army by retiring on Marshall, Tex. I believe he will do the latter.
In my Meridian move my cavalry failed me. It did not leave Memphis till February 11, when it was appointed to reach Meridian February 10, and the force did not go south of Columbus, Miss. Had it started on time it would have reached me, and I could have prevented Polk's army escaping across the Tombigbee. As it was, Polk got across on the 17th, three days after I entered Meridian. Either Hurlbut or A. J. Smith will command the forces I send up Red River.
Your friend, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HDQRS. DIST. OF THE FRONTIER,
DEPARTMENT OF ARKANSAS, Numbers 5.
Fort Smith, Ark., March 4, 1864.
Stealing, pillaging, and burning fence rails must and shall be stopped. It is demoralizing to the army, injurious to the Government, and disastrous to peaceable citizens. The farms must be tilled and crops raised. A commander is justified in taking that which is necessary to subsist his men and animals, but it must be done by his order only, and he must give receipts and account for what he takes, so that loyal people may receive a just compensation. If troops destroy fences, plunder houses, kill or take away stock, the value of the property taken or destroyed shall be stopped against such troops on their respective pay-rolls. Wagon-masters shall be held accountable for the conduct of the teamsters and all others under them, and if either are guilty of the outrages named they shall be discharged from the service without pay.
If officers do not use all the means in their power to prevent these evils, stoppages of their pay shall be made against them for the value of the property taken or destroyed, equally with the men, in proportion to their salary; and furthermore, such officers will be recom-
32 R R-VOL XXXIV, PT II